Targaryen Vs Lannister: We Did the Math for the Next 'Game of Thrones' Battle so You Don’t Have to
Mad Queen Cersei Lannister sits pretty in the Red Keep, having sat out the Great War. Assuming the Targaryen-Stark alliance is still solid and Jon Snow forfeits his claim to the throne, how do the military strengths of both sides line up?
Image by HBO.
With half the final season over, Game of Thrones is now racing towards its finale with and all roads point to King’s Landing.
Quick warning: If you haven’t yet caught up with S8E03 "The Long Night," turn back from this point for this post is dark and full of terrors.
Ok, so now that the people who haven’t seen the latest episode are gone, let’s get down to business.
Half of Winterfell castle is rubble, the Dothraki are all but wiped out and our heroes are exhausted. But the good news is, the White Walker threat has seemingly passed (Mostly because Arya Stark paid attention in assassin school).
Meanwhile, the Mad Queen Cersei Lannister sits pretty in the Red Keep, having sat out the Great War. Assuming the Targaryen-Stark alliance is still solid and Jon Snow forfeits his claim to the throne, how do the military strengths of both sides line up?
Much of Daenerys Targaryen’s forces relied on the Dothraki hordes. When Daenerys stepped out of the fire that killed all the Khals in S6E04, she unites with the Khalasar that sails with her to Westeros. We saw what an asset they could be in the loot train attack in S7E04.
But the first half of ‘The Long Night’ saw the Dothraki running into a blind charge against the Night King’s Army. In a matter of seconds, we saw their flames extinguished (Seriously, Jon and Dany are terrible strategists). We couldn’t spot any Dothraki riders in the episode 4 promo, so that leads us to believe the Dothraki are all but extinct. The Dothraki genocide means around 70% of the Targaryen forces are gone. Dany has already lost one of her most valuable allies – the Tyrells – and God only knows what’s happening with Dorne in the show.
We know that Daenerys acquired all 8,000 Unsullied back in S3E03 and they mostly survived until the "Long Night". Let’s assume the White Walker assault took out around half the Unsullied. She also lost her fleet in the attack on Casterly Rock. In Season 8, we see Yara Greyjoy going back to the Iron Islands to get a fleet and in the next episode’s promo we see ships with the Targaryen sigil.
An asset that may come in handy is the knowledge that both Tyrion Lannister and Lord Varys possess about the ins and outs of King’s Landing. That leaves Daenerys with 4,000 unsullied troops, an unknown number of ships and two full-grown dragons. (Relax guys, we saw BOTH Drogon and Rhaegal in the promo!). The dragons give her a significant advantage since she is the only player with an airforce. Those two dragons are basically medieval B52 Bombers.
Assuming the Starks keep their word and back Dany’s bid for throne, here’s how they stack up. Before the Battle of the Bastards, Jon assesses his troop strength. They have 2,000 wildlings, 62 House Mormont men, 200 Hornwoods and 143 Mazins (around 2,400) against 8,000 Bolton bannermen.
The odds were against Jon until his sister (actually, cousin) Sansa called in a favour with the Knights of the Vale, who numbered around 2,000 and swooped in to save the day. After BoB, Jon’s forces were reduced to less than half. The Bolton forces suffered more damage as Ramsay abandoned his men mid-way. So let’s assume that 2,000 northern troops, including wildlings, and 2,000 Knights of the Vale at Jon’s command.
My general rule of Thumb with the Battle of Winterfell is to assume that half of all troops perished. So that leaves a combined strength of just 2,000 troops under Jon Snow’s command. But they have an asset that the Lannisters don’t – Master Assassin Arya Stark. Think about the devastation she could wreck in King’s Landing, a city she already has knowledge of. Oh, and there’s also Ghost. The goodest of good bois is also there in the promo.
Cersei has no allies apart from the eccentric Euron Greyjoy. She has barely any Lannister forces and no Jaime to command them in battle.
And yet, somehow, she is the favorite to win this war. The bulk of the Lannister forces were smashed when Drogon burnt them to crisps in S7E04. But since the Lannisters are the ruling family, it’s safe to assume they will have troops scattered across the Seven Kingdoms.
Let’s assume Cersei could have anywhere between 0-5,000 troops across Westeros that she could consolidate for the defense of King’s Landing. Her only ally, House Tarly, was destroyed in the loot train attack and we saw the few paltry survivors bend the knee to Daenerys.
Cersei scores over her opponents with her naval strength and that could prove decisive especially if the Targaryen-Starks mount an attack via sea. Euron Greyjoy had promised a “thousand ships” to the Queen. Even if we assume the flamboyant seafarer lived up to only half of his promise, that’s still 500 ships. She has Qyburn’s Scorpion – which is her version of an anti-aircraft gun.
Yes, it didn’t really manage to kill Drogon but it sure looked like it causes some damage. If Qyburn can replicate it, we may have a few more dead dragons on our hands. We also know that Cersei is not averse to using Weapons of Mass Destruction after she blew up the Sept of Baelor in S6E10.
But the clinching advantage was when she hired the Golden Company, an elite mercenary force. The 20,000 men of the Golden Company could prove insurmountable for the Dragon Queen.
However, the Golden Company owes no loyalty to Cersei. And remember, Cersei owes a huge debt to the Iron Bank of Bravos. So while Lannisters always pay their debts, could this be the first time one of them doesn’t? If the Golden Company decides to abandon her because her cheque bounced, that leaves her with only a few thousand troops to defend the Red Keep against an army that has just fought and defeated the dead!
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